Diagnosing immunity to Ebola

A new approach to the detection of immunity to Ebola virus infection has been developed by researchers in a collaboration between University College London (UCL) and Imperial College London. Published in ACS Nano, the new approach uses lateral-flow technology, coupled with smartphones to provide a promising alternative to laboratory-based testing.

Since the major Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014, a number of diagnostic tools have been developed to allow rapid diagnosis of patients; however, detection of antibodies is still performed using expensive, time-consuming laboratory-based equipment. During this outbreak, nearly 29,000 people were infected and there were more than 11,000 fatalities, yet limitations in available diagnostic and prognostic tests meant that less than 60% of cases were diagnosed.

The new test detects IgG antibodies against key viral proteins, which play an important role as the basis of most currently-developed vaccines. Unlike similar tests, it also classifies this protein against two additional viral proteins, which could be used to identify populations exposed to the virus, as well as predict acute patient survival rate.

 

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